Dec 13, 2009

Pressing Pain!

“Senior VP is visiting us tomorrow, make sure you present yourself in neatly pressed business formals”, reminded my Project manager.  Of the 16 words he uttered, one word that kept ringing in my mind was ‘PRESSED’!

Pressing the daily clothes may sound a mundane task which is not worth a piece of your mind. But believe me; it is far more than that, especially if you are as lazy as I am!

Every weekday morning, when I open my eyes to the first rays of the sun seeping through the window, beyond the feeling of a ‘new day: rise and shine’, comes a series of questions on the overnight official emails, the first meeting of the morning which I have to sit through, the lunch I should pack etc.

And the most tiring thought of them all would be on what I should wear!?  Ahem…Let me rephrase this!..are my formal clothes pressed?!

Typically, I press a pair of pant and shirt once and use it twice or thrice before I wash! (Yeah.. I am lazy!). Now, that makes a minimum of two pairs of pant and shirt or four pieces of clothes to be ironed for the week. This sounds simple as all I have to do is press two pairs over the weekend and I am all set! But then, I wish I would listen to myself once!

I might not be entirely unreasonable on why pressing clothes is painful, especially when one adopts the Just in time pressing! (Most of them may sound ridiculous, but hey! That’s me)

One: Time is precious. When you wake up 10 minutes before you start to office, there are other critical and socially essential tasks that take precedence such as brushing your teeth, take bath and of course pack your lunch.

Two: when you choose to press in such an ‘emergency mode’ every minute pressed is two minutes lost (Einstein’s relativity perhaps!) and you feel like you are wasting time and end up messing  other tasks!

I did have a work around to by pass this pain. Sadly though, it works during winters alone! This is why I like the Orange county winters. It is not too cold to painfully wrap yourself up in ‘n’ number of layers.  The temperature would drop to bearable levels where a full sleeve sweater would serve the purpose! And this turned out to be my solution to my ‘pressing blues’.

All I used to do was to put on the sweater when my shirt is not pressed. This also made me count half sleeves, shirts which would otherwise be a strict no in the formal attire category, into my office ‘wardrobe’!

I went on to add four more sweaters, just to not be repetitive!

 One interesting thing I noticed was that there were quite a few in my office who started wearing different sweaters everyday!  Did everyone have a reason like the one I had? Everyone is as lazy as I am?  May be true or may be not

“You are not alone!”, I smiled at myself

Dec 8, 2009

Forbidden Apple?!

How many of you have iPhone?, asked my prof in the class. My thoughts travelled 23 months 13 days back in time, the Christmas of 2007 to be precise when I first laid my hands on the brand new iPhone.

 11 months had passed by since Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone in his Jan 2007 keynote at MacExpo. What Steve Jobs showed the world was way ahead of the contemporary handheld devices. He literally made a mockery of the stylus that comes with these handheld devices and showed the world why stylus was such a redundant piece of stick when you have the natural stylus, five of them in each hand!

My love story with Apple started off in mid 2006 when my cousin gifted me an iPod Nano. It was hard for me to fathom that stuff like music could be made so organized and portable. I was impressed by click wheel and the option to choose the song you want. From Walkman (the tape cassette one!) to iPod was an astronomical leap of sorts. Apple made it possible. It was indeed love at first sight!

By December that year, I moved to Los Angeles, a bit closer to the birth place of Apple. I was on the lookout for buying my first notebook. MacBooks were a bit heavy on the purse. All I could do at that point in time was to hope that Apple would give away free MacBooks to people who want to own one but cannot afford one! ( Yeah! Brand Apple makes you Insane!)

 Again, my cousin came to the rescue! He offered me to get a 25% discount on the MacBook from one of his colleagues at Apple. Flying to his home in Bay area, the birthplace of Apple was the next thing I did.  I landed at his home on a cold December morning. The MacBook was waiting for me on the table. Pure, white, gorgeous and oozing style in every inch of it. Carefully connecting the charger to the power point, I switched on the Mac Book. The Apple Logo lit up in a white light brighter than the MacBook’s skin. I had never seen anything like that before. I cherished every moment of it!

6 months on, iPhone was launched. And I did call my cousin for that 25% discountJ. I was not fortunate this time around. My friend and I used to track the reviews and feedback of iPhone users. There were quite a few complaints ranging from a battery that would not last more than a few hours to poor camera quality and what not. We were disappointed. Although we did not care much for these complaints, we still could not find a reason for not buying it. Probably there wasn’t one. 

On the Christmas Eve of 2007, my friend got a crazy offer from Amex, offering its card holders a 10% discount at the Apple stores for any purchase of over US $1000.  We sensed that probably, this was the chance. Two iPhones would bring the bill up to 880 USD with taxes (by 2007 rates). We went in search of someone who can buy for the remaining 120 USD! Fortunately, my other roomie was ready to get his iPod. We were off to the Apple store and the next call I did to my mom was on my iphone!

From being clueless on what an iPod was to a Crazy Apple Loyalist possessing three of its beauties! All this in fewer than 8 months! Although I did see that there were lots of compromises like changing your service provider, entering a 2 year contract with ridiculous terms of breaking it, compatibility issues and limitations with the iPhone, brand Apple did push them to the background. Definitely, too good to resist!

Aug 1, 2009

Thanks for Being There!!


The journey has been long, filled with memories. Few to Cherish and many to forget. On quite a few occasions, I have failed to thank God for my good times .Never missed to curse my fate on the not so good ones.

On second thoughts, there was probably a hidden message?..a lesson may be? Tough times were filled with moments of solitude. There was no one behind me. Nor a soul ahead of me.I looked around to realize that YOU were always with me. You shared the pain and help me fight out of it.When things were in place and ‘Plan A’ worked, we had nothing but fun. We mocked at each other and fooled around together.

But times do change. And when they changed for the worse, nothing went my way. Dark clouds surrounded. Failure loomed large. You were the Silver lining, bright enough to disperse them. You always reminded me that ‘Even this will pass away’. You brought in Optimism and hope. I began to hate loneliness. With you around, that was obvious. You have been a wonderful friend. You are a wonderful friend and you Will be a wonderful friend.

At times in my prayers, deep in my heart, I have stopped cursing my fate for all those bad times. Those were the moments of truth; ones that made me realize how important you are to me.

Stay as good as you are! Keep me afloat!!
Thanks for being there! At all times!!
Happy Friends Day!!

Date: 1 Aug 2009

Jul 23, 2009

Stay Connected...

She was holding the mobile phone in her hand. She could not sleep. It was one hour into the new day. She has never been awake for so long. She was anxious and seemingly disturbed. She was clearly waiting for an important call. She sent a text message again. There was neither a reply nor a call

A couple of months back, Sitamma got a surprise gift from her son. A mobile phone. Nokia 1100. Indeed, it was phone for India. Sitamma never was a great fan of phones .She still believed that nothing can be as effective as hand written letters. Mobile phones were totally out of her comfort zone. She would never have imagined that one day, she would be texting! The Son gifted Sitamma a mobile phone, with a purpose though. He was travelling abroad to work and earn. Something more than written letters was needed for the mother and the son to stay in touch in this ‘fast and furious’ world. And it was the mother who took that extra pain to learn to handle mobile phones. It was a phenomenal gesture from the 50 year old Sitamma. She had to learn from scratch. From picking and making calls to texting messages. She had 2 weeks to learn that. And she did learn to handle mobile phone .Clearly, every mother steps up like Sitamma did when it comes to caring the kids.

The Phone finally beeped at 1:53 AM. She was so excited and relieved. The first thing she checked with her son was if he had received her text message. The conversation continued and ended on a happy note. Sitamma sunk into the bed peacefully, Thanking Mr.Nokia from heart for keeping her connected with her son.

Jul 17, 2009

Coffee ‘breaks’- A 20 minute Joy ride!!

It was over twenty minutes the scheduled end time and Web conference cum Dial in meeting was still on. I had to hang on to this mandatory meeting as ‘instructed’. Monday mornings can’t get better (or worse?)

“Dude! Move it.” mimed my friend who was couple of seats away. I knew it was well past our Coffee time and I was just waiting to slam the phone down and teleport myself to the pantry. That did happen after a few minutes, and when it happened, It was a moment of relief. Freedom at its best. I rushed to the pantry and the ‘Gang’ was already in, brewing a fresh pot of 50 grams Caffeine. Oh! The aroma was at its ‘intoxicating’ best. I was ‘flying without wings’. Almost.

The ‘Gang’ was made of four hard working blokes, way too responsible at work (Yeah! People say that ;) at the same time never miss a chance to break loose. I was in the gang. 

The 10 to 10:20 AM slot, every working day was ‘blocked’ for coffee breaks. Typically, this coffee break sets the tone for rest of the day. The morning routine starts with checking those countless official mails and respond to them (call it to flush out of your inbox! ). Once you are done with this, invariably, you would look to get out of your work space for a break. This is why the 10 to 10:20 AM slot is so critical as the urge to take a break and refresh oneself is at its peak.

The brewer beeped. The pot was brimming with hot espresso Americano. Carefully measured scoops of sugar and one tenth pint of fresh milk, in exciting proportions, added with THE liquid, Viola…I found the Elixir!!

Each one of us took our share from the pot. The first sip I took went into the mouth gracefully. I didn’t swallow it immediately. I allowed my tongue to get soaked into the hot sip. The warmth in that sip slowly transferred onto the interiors of my mouth, perfectly obeying the science of heat flow. The liquid went in , leaving behind the strong taste of caffeine, after transferring its warmth completely. God bless ‘Coffee plant’ ! It makes sense why every commercial on Coffee is so refreshing and rejuvenating.

The next 15 minutes of discussion in the ‘Gang’, with a cup of Café latte each, would always be of top quality and on issues that really mattered to the world at large ( See!..That’s what a cup of madness can do!) From why Chennai super kings lost in the semifinals, why the project manager’s dressing sense was so bad to counting the number of ‘thank you’s Obama would utter in his presidential campaign speeches!

With each sip, the rationality and the quality of our discussion would only go up! And up! Until the cup drains when things come back to normal and we regain our foolishness.
Needless to say, many such ‘gangs’ enjoy the coffee breaks and the reasons seemed to be quite obvious. Apart from the usual characteristics of caffeine, coffee breaks give time to keep work aside and discuss with buddies, think beyond work and free up your mind. A free mind is any day better to work with than a confused one. The best part is, you get to just sit back and relax until you finish your cup.

“Its 10:40 AM, I have a meeting at 11:00 AM on the migration project”, said my friend. He was indirectly telling , “ Break over fellas, get back to work!” He was right. It was time to justify our pay checks.

The rejuvenation will sustain until the next coffee break at 3 PM!!

Till then, if you feel your mind is not in place, grab a cup of coffee! Trust me, you will be a better person!

Jul 12, 2009

Wrong person Worng place

Neatly dressed in business formals, I was furiously running in the middle of the road at 8:15 AM .This was in response to a frantically waving hand at a distance.“Innaikum bus vitutengala saar!” (“you missed your bus today too!” ) asked suresh smiling at me.

Suresh works in the Tea stall next to the bus stop where I board my company bus. He is a very bubbly character and has opinions or suggestions for every topic on earth. To know him better, all you had to do was to get a glass of tea from stall and throw a topic in the air. Suresh will promptly air his ‘expert opinions’. Nobody misses to notice his demeanor. His day typically begins with washing used plates and glasses from the previous day, cut vegetables for sambar and poriyal, prepare idlis for breakfast. All this before he ensures that I catch the bus in time.
Most of the days, If not all, he has been my savior. But for him, I would have had to suffer the moments of insanity in madras public transport where ‘you are never alone’. And today was one such day. Hoping for the best, I moved on for the day.

Next day, I started a few minutes earlier. For a change, I wanted suresh to take a break from watching and holding the bus for me. I completed the 500 m walk from my door step in under 5 mins. I peeped into the tea stall. It was unusually silent and I did notice the unwashed plates and glasses. I realized that suresh didn’t turn up that day.

I enquired with the stall owner.

“Suresh is lucky sar! He is the special guest in our area school today”,

I was surprised. It didn’t make sense. I checked my watch. It said “14, November 2005”
Oh yea! It was his day after all. Apparently, the nearby school was celebrating children’s day and the theme this year was “child labour”.

Pondering over the owner’s words on “lucky suresh”, was he really lucky? Where was he and where he was supposed to be? And worst of all, how I did not realize that suresh was not at the right place. Was it because he was holding my bus everyday to ensure that I don’t miss it? I kept pondering.

“Seekaram yerunga sar!” (“Board the bus quickly, sir!”), screamed a voice. That was my bus driver and he was waiting for me.

I moved on.

Jul 4, 2009


“Trrrrrrrnnnnnnngggg” blared my alarm at 3:30 AM in the morning. It was just half an hour back ,I had hit the sack after spending exactly 6 minutes to pack my bags ( I felt even those precious 6 minutes were too long to stuff in two unwashed pair of jeans and a couple of ‘god knows when last washed’ tee shirts.) I had an early morning 5:45 flight from Los Angeles to San Francisco….well…..had to settle down for such an ungodly take off time as anything beyond a 5:45 Am flight would burn my already empty pocket. I sat up on my bed after thumping my alarm down. Silence retuned in my room. The fire place was giving such a pleasant warmth in a cold December morning in an otherwise dark room. I peeped out of my window,…beyond the veil of the fog, I could see the neighbour’s Santa smiling at my plight…It was Christmas the next day..Poor me…I cannot afford sinking back into my bed which would have been the case any other day..but today was special……..certainly priceless…… The Plan was to catch up with my school buddy at the silicon valley for breakfast, whom I did not meet after moving out of school……eight years back….

Although we remained in touch after moving out of the “no worries” zone of school……we only managed to do that… in touch and not meet……..It was not that we didn’t care for each other, our priorities started shifting and being in the current circle mattered a lot…to some extent this was beyond our control….nevertheless…we were happy to be in touch and know each other’s progress….A year back, I moved to Los Angeles on an Onshore assignment and my friend reached San Francisco couple of months back………we exchanged phone numbers and continued to do what we were best at…..Stay In touch…… In one of those usual conversations, my friend invited me to san Francisco to spend that Christmas weekend, thereby end the jinx of not meeting for 8 continuous years…Now that gave a ‘feel good’ feeling for me….It was not a bad idea at all….after all I have an unenviable record of being idle during long weekends…perhaps time to fix that…..

My iPhone flashed that three hours and fourty two minutes have passed since Dec 24 was born. I jumped out of my bed and got ready to catch the 4 AM taxi. All the while cherishing our school days……..I rushed out of my home….Damn….I was trembling despite having a jacket on……it was cold and windy...fortunately, the cab was waiting…..we took the I05 West freeway and reached the Tom Bradley terminal….the clock tower screamed 4: 48 AM…….The check-in and baggage drop counter would be closed in 12 more minutes..and there were scores of visibiliy excited holiday travelers ahead in the queue…but did I care…?.not a bit…..I just had my hand luggage and headed straight to the gate, which was on the far end of the terminal……phew…a long walk indeed……I reached the gate well ahead of the boarding time…..had 20 more minutes to kill before the take off….Ideal for 4 of A R Rahman’s master pieces!.I plugged on my iPod…immersed myself into rahamanism….time flew……..suddenly I felt a hand on my shoulder. The American airlines lady furiously directed me towards the jet’s entrance…Not again...I was the last person to board…… I settled down quickly into my seat and relaxed myself for a little over an hour’s flight…I looked down the window when the flight took off……LA was still in dark..I was excited….a bit sleepy as well…..and actually dozed off even before crossing Malibu...minutes ticked down….the captain announced the landing preparation….

I woke up….and saw below, the SFO airport surrounded by the beautiful Bay at 7 :15 in the morning…….I gave a call to my friend…..there was no response…..I came out of the aircraft …the coffee shop in front of me was too inviting to resist…I persisted….I wanted to have that first cup of coffee for the day with my friend with whom my last meal together was 8 years back…… I continued with my long walk towards exit…
I couldn’t wait any more and wanted to give it another try to reach my buddy on phone…I noticed something strange on my phone…there was an unread Voice mail for ,god knows how long…….while still trying to figure out on how it missed my attention ,I checked it and…….was heartbroken…. It was my friend’s voice mail sent the previous day….
A disappointed voice conveyed the professional emergency and my friend had to leave the city for the next couple of days…I was dejected….

Was it luck….or….bad luck? ..So near yet so far? ...Are we destined not to meet for eight more years? Only time can answer……

I went back to the “inviting” coffee shop …grabbed a tall café mocha and settled down in a corner window, overlooking the run way…I sipped down the coffee and glanced through the wet window at a taxiing Boeing 737 amidst the beautiful San Francisco drizzle……The truth started sinking in…..certainly, being lonely, at times , helps retrospection……….I began to realize that despite not meeting my friend, which was my only purpose of this visit, over the past four hours of this day, there were little moments to cherish sprinkled all over…..Be it the cold LA mornings, the excited holiday travelers in LA airport, the joy of immersing into rahmanism at 5 30 AM waiting to board, a showery and overcast san Francisco airport and finally…the last sip of Café mocha ….

I listened to my friend’s voice message again…….I felt much lighter..

What is priceless?? Meeting my friend was not the only purpose of my visit to SFO…I have learnt to take a step aside, look at things around me and be sensitive enough to cherish the tinest of moments that happen around me....

Life is much better when you can see things ,which always existed, but ignored………

Jul 2, 2009

Words Words!

" My dream is to be in Muck 'n See and jumpstart my career", retorted one of my friends.I did not get what he was conveying. I quickly referred to to find what exactly Muck means? Well it actually says "Something filthy or disgusting"! . Was he insane? Why would he want to move on to a 'mucky' place and risk his career!??. Or was he referring to his current work place which he hates so much that he was planning a 'move on'. "Dude, I didnt get you, where u said u want to be??", I asked with sense of "what the heck" look on me.

"Muck'n See bro..One of the BIG 4", he beamed. Only then I realised that he was referring to 'Mckinsey consulting' all the while.

Phew.......Now ,under which ethinc accent should I categorize the Mckinsey<----->Muck'n See transformation??...I was clueless... However,I did learn that with increasing number of people aping different accents as a part of 'globalization', there is a whole new bunch who are creating one....Call it the Hybrid of accents :)

Not sure if its for the good though!!

Jun 24, 2009

Why we are the way we are??

"Where are we publicising today evening??", my friend asked me swiping the sweat off his forehead. It was 2 30 PM on a bright sunny sunday and we were standing in Artesia ( the Indian street in Orange county,California) to distribute fliers for the forthcoming Awareness walk event for CRY( Child rights and You).We had over 1000 such fliers to distribute and we were only 3 in number to handle those.Our publicty campaign had to intensify as the event date was nearing. Hence we had decided to cover 2 locations each weekend to accelerate the public reach and awareness.That evening, we were targeting the University of California campus at Los Angeles.There was this Desi musical event which would normally attract a huge Indian crowd and hence a good opportunity for publicity.
Flyer distributors like us are considered as one of the nuisances in public gatherings like this.We are next to autograph hunters, in surrounding people and hunt them down until we stuff our fliers.Three of us took positions at three different entranc
es and chased our targets. Now we had to clearly segment our targets based on the probabilty of our fliers being directed to dustbins (yea..people do that..) or handbags. Over 60% of the crowd that turns out to such social events are from upscale strata .The stakes were high as any potential donor will donate BIG! Our process of distributing the flier to a potential donor starts atleast 10 seconds before the actual flyer distribution takes place. We start observing the family members to identify the 'approachable' ! Once Identifying the 'approaceable', we pitch our flyer,Event, CRY organization and urge to donate. we typically end with this punch line "please joins us with friends and family" while thrusting the flyer in the hands....All this happens in the time gap of encountering the 'approachable' and the act of giving the flyer, which would be under 10 seconds.

We encountered people with different attitudes towards the flyer and the CRY event itself , from flamboyant men and pompous women who jus take the flyers and throw it in the dustbin right in front of us,from people who did not believe in such fundraising organizations (they were at least courteous enough to not take the flyer,considering the wastage it will result in), from courteous people who collected the flyer and acknowledged our presence without questions ,to those blessed souls who actually showed interest in knowing more about the event and the organization.Such blessed souls more than often end up in volunteering for CRY or pull more donors for CRY ( Chain marketing type!) It took us 20 to 25 mins to exhaust the bunch of fliers to distribute.

Distributing fliers has taught me some important lessons in life,

People are as different as they can possibly be. We got to see some characters which I never believed to have existed (like the one throwing the flyer in dustbin,after a couple of sentences of ridicule on CRY). You gotta come out and try meeting all types of people coz life is too short to actually meet all of them.

Never take success to your head as you grow,coz one day it will instill arrogance in you which you will never realize. Success is momentary and life is a journey.One should enjoy the success and move on in search of the next one wihtout letting your success in past affecting you (negatively atleast) on your pursuit of next success.In short, have a level head on your shoulders.

This excercise has given me enormous amounts of training in patience as at times, behaviour of these arrogant bunch of people can drive you crazy. If you can handle them successfully,you can handle anyone and anything on earth!

You are what you think. Honestly, almost all who came to that 'cultural gathering' have shelled out more than a couple of hundred bucks to spend a 3 hour evening in Bollywood music,which only means that almost all of them are more than capable of donating a small amount.However, you really have to have that mind to donate ( Although there are still a small percentage of people who do not donate for some genuine reasons).

The success rate in flyer distribution is extremely low. Your success rate will be 1 or 2% which means you might invoke interest in 1 or 2 folks out of every 100 persons you meet and distribute the flyer.However, if that 1 or 2% who show interest are genuine, both interms of donating as well as volunteering, you can feel the sense of achievement, after all that was what we were looking for.

I retuned back after a long day, recalling the various characters I had met all through the day and reflecting on my thoughts and impressions on them….certainly, many more lessons to be learnt….Am still working on it :)

Jun 19, 2009

So....How do you find Dubai??!! ;)

I was at the water dispenser to fill up my water bottle.I had rushedout of a very boring Macroeconomics class to have break for few mins before getting back.And I see a good looking senior girl filling up water next to me...Her bottle was a 2 litre one and it obvsly had to take atleast 60 seconds to fill up!......Now my mind went back to the communications class we had where we were taught about "elevator pitch" (yea...u had to sell urself in 30 seconds)...I realised that this was an ideal chance to test that out.....Now what do i Do??? To sound cool and chilled out.I ask her

"You are from the senior batch right ??"
(obvsly she has to be u dumbo...If shes not in ur class.she has to bein senior class!)
She replies " Yeah..." (somehow I felt she increased the tap speed---indirectly wanted to finish her bottle filling excercise quickly :)
"Which stream..IT or Finance??"
(what a loser you are....)
"IT.....and you?"
(For a moment she sounded interesting"
"I am from IT How do you find Dubai???"
(this is where I felt I had an upper hand,coz these seniors moved from Singapore and we,the juniors started from Dubai. Effectively, we were 2 or 3 months in dubai before these seniors. I threw this question in an attempt to build on it with my 3 month knowledge on Dubai)
You should have seen my reaction on her response
she says " Oh I have been here for my life!"
(Bussssssssssssssss...That was my show off deflating :P )
I had to reply back " Oops!.wrong qstn to the wrong person........(andI smile like an Idiot) "
She smiles " How do u find dubai?!"
I go "Hot,hotter and hottest :)"
Lesson 1: Murphy's law always works
Lesson 2: when any doubts,refer lesson 1 !! :)